After Chinese President Xi Jinping consolidated his leadership position with the removal of a two-term limit on the presidency and Putin won re-election in March, “the basic building blocks for future cooperation on security issues are somewhat more solid”, said Elina Sinkkonen, a senior research fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
“Such language, together with the US sanctions on Russia and trade issues with China certainly influence top level calculations in Moscow and Beijing,” she said.
Alex Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Centre, said the two neighbours had also seen their interests becoming increasingly overlapped in areas ranging from security in Central Asia to the future of Afghanistan, Africa and North Korea.
“Both countries want to keep each other in the loop, explain their intentions and cooperate when possible”, he said.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend is about as old an adage in geopolitics as I can think of.
Meanwhile, China has a vital need for energy, industrial resources and agricultural commodities and Russia is a neighbouring country with vast supplies. The countries have long had competing global hegemonic ambitions but they are likely to become increasingly close trading partners in future as the Chinese economy’s appetite for resources remains strong. Concurrently the ability of two despots to form a personal relationship is likely to be a major influence on whether the countries can form a closer bond.